Wow, the last week (including today) I just feel like I keep getting hit by a truck in my sleep or something… You know, for someone who can get woken up by cars driving miles away on a quiet night, I don't know what I was thinking moving into the Junction. There are train tracks probably fifty feet from my house, and it's like a mini earthquake. If I had a computer with an accelerometer on it, I'd post the seismic data. Given that speed bumps cause foundation damage in a house, I really wonder what damage is being done to this house because it's got really shoddy construction.

I watched Charlotte's Web this morning. It's just finishing up now —

“After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.”

I think the reason that I got tense in the previous entry is that I'm actually a little upset when I think about influences. In some ways I find the massive popularity of tattoos (due to Inked and other mainstream media) and other permanent body modifications a little disturbing, because I worry all the time that young people are facing enormous pressure from the media to make drastic changes in their body… Of course I understand that it is an influence, but I truly hope that BME is more of an archive of our shared personal stories and pictures, and a way of coming together to guide each other along our own individual paths.

A few people have told me that things have changed, that maybe the way I feel, and the way I grew up, is something of the past… But I'm not so sure. I think if anything it could be harder for people with the innate need to transform themselves into who they perceive themselves as because of the strong forces of fashion and advertising driving what is now an industry doing billions of dollars in sales annually (it's quite remarkable, and the industry pioneers who pulled that off deserve enormous credit).

Anyway, I'm rambling a bit, but I when I was a kid, I used manipulating my body both in temporary and permanent ways to learn about myself, and then later when I hit puberty, it became obvious to me that not only was this something that I found fascinating on a deep intellectual level, but also something that turned me on. Something that was a core and inseparable part of me. Did my parents excellent collection of National Geographics and books on indiginous peoples influence me? I don't know. Did the fact that my mother grew up in Africa have an influence on me? I don't know. Feel free to blame it on all the modified characters in the sci-fi and D&D I soaked up as a kid if you want.

What I know is that I have spent nearly my entire life being told that the way I am is wrong and being told to stop. Most of my life I've felt very alone because of it, and have experienced occasional self-doubt, wondering if maybe it's not OK to be this way. I've gone through brief periods where I've tried to cover it up, and become deeply unhappy because of it. Eventually I realized it simply wasn't a choice. I couldn't erase it, I couldn't change it and more than I could change my sexual orientation on a whim.

I've quoted him before, but Peter Shaun Morrison (Mr. Leather International runner up, 1988) was quoted in PFIQ as saying,

“Being gay was never an option for me. It was what I was. Crawling into my brother's motorcycle jacket for the first time and feeling my dick get hard, I knew that leather wasn't an option either. It was what I was.

You know, I've spent over a decade talking to others with the same feelings and I still don't know “why” exactly this is what we're about and into. All I know is it's real, not a choice, and, as Peter put it so clearly — It was what I was. So for me, BME when it was started was a way of coming to terms with who I am, and then when it grew, a way of learning that not only was I not alone, but there were tons of people who felt the same way. And I think we all came together not because we had the same influences, but because we had the same drives and could help each other.

Have I been influenced by others? I know I've been helped by a very long list of people, from the well known (in my case that would be Fakir, Chris Burden, Jon Cobb, Tom Brazda — Tom probably most of all — and Steve Haworth, Patrick Bartholomew, Todd Bertrang, and of course Shawn and Jack by proxy as well) to people who are not well known (my cosmetic surgeon, my highschool art teacher, my highschool biology teacher, etc.), but honestly, the biggest help I've had is simply in meeting other people who feel the same way. Sometimes I think all we need to be happy is to say to each other that we accept the we each of us chooses to be and do everything we can to help each other realize our dreams and our selves.

(Original forum unavailable, sorry)*

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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